REPORT: Crawley Wasps 1 Watford 3

Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs was named Player of the Match by match sponsors Sub-Cool FM (Picture: Alan Sillwood-Brown)

Crawley Wasps’ 100 per cent start to the new season ended with a 3-1 home defeat by Watford – only their second league loss in two and a half years.

After a goalless first hour, Watford struck twice in short order at East Grinstead to take control and although Ellie Russell got Wasps back into it, the visitors settled matters late on.

Newly promoted Wasps had won their first four games in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division, and still sit top of the third tier despite this defeat.

They started promisingly, with Rebecca Carter denied by a sprawling save from Watford’s former Brighton keeper Nina Wilson, while Charlotte Owen lashed narrowly wide.

At the other end, Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs – named player of the match by sponsors Sub-Cool FM – made a fine stop to keep out Megan Chandler, and Andrea Carid later hit the post.

Gibbs also did brilliantly early in the second half to deny Adekite Fatuga-Dada, but she was beaten on the hour mark when the same player broke the offside trap to convert from Ryah Vyse’s pass.

GALLERY: More of Alan Sillwood-Brown’s pictures to follow.

Watford doubled the lead on 69 minutes as a corner was headed back across goal for Anne Meiwald to head into an empty net.

Wasps pulled a goal back when Naomi Cole’s free kick caused problems for keeper Wilson, who could only drop it on to the head of Russell.

But the Hornets restored their two-goal lead, Gibbs’ goal kick intercepted by Ocean Rolandsen, who played the ball forward for Leanne Bell and her squared ball was swept in by Katie O’Leary.

Wasps manager Paul Walker said: “I think in most areas Watford had the edge and were worthy winners. There’s some good sides in this league and teams will take points off each other.

“We’ve just come off the back of five consecutive wins in all competitions, the most important thing is how we pick ourselves up against Keynsham next week.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, Russell, Drury, Palmer; Cole, Fleischman (Stow 53); Stephens (Ledezma-Viso 72), Owen, Rabson; Carter (Webber 39). Sub not used: Graves.

REPORT: Yeovil Town 1 Crawley Wasps 2

Crawley Wasps celebrate Rebecca Carter’s opener against Yeovil (Picture: Alan Sillwood-Brown)

Naomi Cole’s second-half free-kick secured Crawley Wasps an excellent 2-1 victory at Yeovil Town on Sunday, completing a clean sweep of three wins in seven days.

In the battle between the two early-season high-flyers in the FA Women’s National League South, Wasps struck first through Rebecca Carter.

A resurgent Yeovil – playing in the Women’s Super League last season, before financial problems saw them demoted two divisions – levelled shortly after the break.

But Cole’s set-piece proved the winner and means Wasps sit top of the third tier, with four wins from four, a major feat after back-to-back promotions.

GALLERY: More of Alan Sillwood-Brown’s pictures to follow.

Wasps soaked up spells of possession in the first half, keeper Frankie Gibbs making a couple of good stops, but also had efforts themselves, as Maria Ledezma-Viso – who set up a chance for Carter early on – was denied by Glovers keeper Beth Howard.

On the stroke of half time, Wasps struck the opener, Carter capitalising on some fine work from Tash Stephens and Charlotte Owen.

Yeovil responded well in the second half, Annie Heatherson issuing a warning by producing a save from Gibbs, before Wales international Sarah Wiltshire levelled with a curling effort.

But 10 minutes later, Wasps were back in front, Cole picking herself up after a foul and firing in – and sealing a real statement result.

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, James, Russell, Palmer; Cole, Fleischman (Stow 78); Stephens, Owen (Simmons 90), Ledezma-Viso; Carter (Webber 84).

REPORT: Chichester City 1 Crawley Wasps 7

Wasps celebrate going 2-0 up with goalscorer Ellie Russell (right) and corner taker Rachel Palmer (hidden) (Picture: Alan Sillwood-Brown)

A dominant second-half performance saw Crawley Wasps win 7-1 at Chichester City on Wednesday night – and move to the top of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.

Summer recruits Charlotte Owen and Rebecca Carter both scored twice as Wasps recorded their biggest away league victory since November 2017, and made it three wins from three since promotion to the third tier.

It also lifted them to their highest-ever position in the women’s football pyramid, ahead of Sunday’s trip to second-place Yeovil Town.

Despite finishing third last season, Chichester are in transition this term, after the loss of manager Aaron Smith and a number of first-team players, including winger Tash Stephens to Wasps.

Chi had lost their opening two games without scoring, while Wasps had won both without conceding – and that form was bearing out as the visitors’ left-back Rachel Palmer twice went close in the opening five minutes, grazing the bar and then forcing a save.

GALLERY: For more of Alan Sillwood-Brown’s pictures from the Chichester game, CLICK HERE

Midfielder Owen put Wasps ahead on 27 minutes, netting the rebound after Carter’s lob had come back off the underside of the bar, before centre-back Ellie Russell nodded in from Palmer’s corner.

Chi hit back on the stroke of half time, Sophie Phelps heading in as Wasps were breached for the first time in 374 minutes, dating back to May.

But Paul Walker’s side struck three times early in the second half to kill the game off. Faye Rabson twice set up Carter to net from close range, before she got on the scoresheet herself with a superb header from Stephens’ cross.

The excellent Ariana Fleischman created Owen’s second before Palmer’s cross-cum-shot deceived the Chi keeper to add a seventh.

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, James, Russell, Palmer; Cole, Fleischman; Stephens, Owen, Rabson (Ledezma-Viso 60); Carter (Webber 67). Subs not used: Graves, Niamh Stephenson.

REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 4 Hounslow 0

Charlotte Owen tucks away her first goal for Crawley Wasps (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

Crawley Wasps made it two wins from two in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division with a 4-0 victory over Hounslow on Sunday.

Summer signing Charlotte Owen’s 12th minute opener was just reward for a bright start, but Wasps laboured after that against a well-organised Hounslow, formerly QPR Ladies, who had lost their opening game 9-0 to Yeovil.

However, three goals in a 10-minute period late in the second half gave the scoreline a gloss that was perhaps a tad harsh on the hard-working visitors.

Early on, it looked as though it would be a long afternoon for Hounslow as Wasps dominated. Tash Stephens and Naomi Cole both went close, before Hounslow keeper Gillian Kasiyre blocked bravely in the midst of a goalmouth scramble.

Owen provided the breakthrough, pouncing from close range after Rachel Palmer’s corner wasn’t cleared. But the floodgates didn’t open, as Faye Rabson poked narrowly wide of the far post after a burst of pace and Rebecca Carter shot straight at Kasiyre when clean through.

GALLERY: For more of Ben Davidson’s photos from the Hounslow game, CLICK HERE.

The introduction early in the second half of last season’s top scorer Kemina Webber and lively winger Maria Ledezma-Viso gave extra life to the Wasps attack, and Webber converted on 66 minutes after Naomi Cole’s deflected shot fell into her path.

That led to a spell of Wasps domination. Cole tucked away a penalty after Hope Nash was clipped in the box and Carter – on her third ‘debut’ following her return to the club – fizzed a shot into the net after a fine run and cross from Ledezma-Viso.

Hounslow’s only serious threat came late on, but Sue Kumaning’s free-kick was brilliantly turned away by 17-year-old Wasps keeper Lauren Graves, making only her third league appearance.

Wasps: Graves; Nash, James, Russell, Palmer (Niamh Stephenson 72); Cole, Owen (Webber 55); Stephens (Ledezma-Viso 55), Fleischman, Rabson; Carter. Sub not used: Drury.

Wasps travel to Chichester on Wednesday (kick off 7.45pm).

MATCH REPORT: Oxford United 0 Crawley Wasps 1

Crawley Wasps unveiled their new change strip at Oxford United (Picture: Liam Potter)

Captain Naomi Cole proved the hero as Crawley Wasps won 1-0 at Oxford United to book their place in the main draw of the FA Women’s National League Cup.

Cole struck five minutes from time, capitalising on a defensive error before beating U’s goalkeeper Paris Sercombe.

It was the second time in two seasons that Wasps had won away at Oxford in this competition – they beat them 3-1 after extra time en route to last season’s final.

Paul Walker’s side were without several key players for the trip. Midfielder Jenny Drury and winger Emma Plewa were both ruled out through illness and injury, playmaker Megan Stow through suspension and striker Rebecca Carter away.

GALLERY: For more of Liam Potter’s pictures, CLICK HERE.

They suffered a further blow when summer signing Sam Pittuck, who scored on her debut in the 2-0 win over Plymouth the previous week, limped off.

Chances were at a premium in the first half, as both teams battled hot conditions at Oxford City FC.

After the break, Wasps ‘keeper Frankie Gibbs fielded a shot from Immy Lancaster, while at the other end sub Hope Nash’s fine ball in could not be converted.

With extra-time once again looming, Cole – who had denied Oxford the win last season with an injury-time equaliser – nipped in to score.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson (Nash 48), James, Russell, Palmer; Cole, Owen; Stephens (Ledezma-Viso 63), Fleischman, Rabson; Pittuck (Young 22).

Wasps are back in FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division action this Sunday (September 1) with a home game against Hounslow, at East Grinstead Town’s East Court ground (kick off 2pm).

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 2 Plymouth Argyle 0

Sam Pittuck (facing camera) celebrates her debut goal against Plymouth with Megan Stow (Picture: Alan Sillwood-Brown)

New signings Sam Pittuck and Tash Stephens both hit brilliant finishes as Crawley Wasps beat Plymouth Argyle 2-0 on Sunday in their FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division opener.

Having earned back-to-back promotions, Wasps proved they could compete in the third tier of women’s football, with spells of attractive football allied to grit and defensive solidity.

They made a quick start at East Grinstead Town – Megan Stow forced a good early save from Plymouth keeper Rebekah Kyle, with Faye Rabson volleying against the bar from the resulting corner.

At the other end, Jessie Jones went close for Plymouth while Wasps’ Charlotte Owen came close to a debut goal, firing narrowly wide.

The breakthrough came on 26 minutes. Stephens laid the ball off for Pittuck and the ex-Billericay striker fired into the top corner from 20 yards for a stunning debut goal.

Having pulled that off, there was surprise after the break when Pittuck stabbed against the near post with the goal gaping. However, it mattered little as Stephens doubled the lead with a carbon copy of Pittuck’s strike, after good work from Charlotte Owen.

GALLERY: More of Alan Sillwood-Brown’s pictures will be published shortly.

HIGHLIGHTS: Crawley Wasps 2 Plymouth Argyle 0
VIDEO REACTION: Manager Paul Walker
VIDEO REACTION: Captain Naomi Cole & goalscorer Sam Pittuck

Wasps goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs did brilliantly to first deny Tash Knapman and then Jones, with the home defence working overtime to preserve the clean sheet.

They had to survive the closing stages with 10 men after midfielder Megan Stow was sent off for leaving a foot in after a 50-50 challenge, but that was the only blot on an otherwise excellent start.

Manager Paul Walker said: “To start with three points, with some newbies in the side, I’m delighted, particularly with the strikes by Sam and Tash.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, James, Young, Palmer; Cole, Stow; Stephens (Fleischman 74), Owen (Webber 63), Rabson; Pittuck (Russell 86). Subs not used: Niamh Stephenson, Newman.

Wasps travel to Oxford United in the League Cup this Sunday (August 25), before returning to league action on Sunday September 1 with a home game against Hounslow.

REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 0 Arsenal 4

Wasps captain Naomi Cole shakes the hand of Arsenal’s 16-year-old hat-trick scorer Ruby Grant. (Picture: Ben Davidson – www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Crawley Wasps’ Women’s FA Cup run was ended by the professionals of Arsenal on Sunday – but they won many admirers in keeping the score respectable in front of a stunning crowd of 1,550.

Although the injury-hit Gunners made six changes from their 3-0 win over Reading in the Women’s Super League, their starting XI still included seven internationals – including their captain, Scotland’s Kim Little, and Netherlands midfielder Danielle van de Donk.

Wasps, meanwhile, were missing ex-Wales winger Emma Plewa through injury but were able to call on former England youth internationals Naomi Cole and Charlotte Young.

Arsenal dominated territory and possession but in the first half they were mostly repelled by an industrious Wasps, with Young and centre-back partner Darcey James excelling.

GALLERY: For more pictures from the Arsenal game, CLICK HERE

It took 17 minutes for the Gunners to break through as they capitalised on a rare defensive error, Katie McCabe feeding Little, who drilled into the bottom left-hand corner.

But if the crowd at Tinsley Lane – more than double that which saw Brighton play Manchester United at Crawley Town earlier in the day – feared the floodgates would open, Wasps proved them wrong with some snappy work in midfield and crisp passing football on the break.

However they were undone again just before the break as Denmark winger Katrine Veje sped past Niamh Stephenson and laid the ball across for 16-year-old Ruby Grant, who fired home.

Arsenal replaced Little at half-time with England midfielder Leah Williamson, and the Gunners created more chances – Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs twice denying Veje.

Ruby Grant fires past Frankie Gibbs to score her second and Arsenal’s third. Picture: Ben Davidson (www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Kemina Webber’s introduction for Wasps did give Arsenal’s defence more to think about, but Grant grabbed her second and the visitors’ third after being played in by Ava Kuyken.

Wasps had a great chance to score the goal their hard work merited when Faye Rabson skipped clear, but the experienced Sari Van Veenendaal stood up well to block her shot.

And teenager Grant completed her hat-trick late on – but the result was always secondary to the valiant performance and the outstanding crowd on the biggest day in Wasps’ history.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, Young, James, Palmer; Drury (Russell 66), Cole; Fleischman (Webber 60), Stow, Rabson; Heather (Davies 90). Subs not used: Graves, Measures, Ward, Woollard.

Arsenal: Van Veenendaal; Dawbarn, Quinn, Arnth, McCabe (Albuquerque 62); Van de Donk (Hazard 62), Little (Williamson 46), Grant; Filis, Kuyken, Veje. Subs not used: Peyraud-Magnin, Mead.

REACTION: Walker “immensely proud”, Arsenal boss praises Wasps

REPORT & GALLERY: Coventry United 1 Crawley Wasps 2

Crawley Wasps celebrate reaching the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup after winning at Coventry United.

Darcey James’s injury-time winner saw Crawley Wasps stun higher-division Coventry United on Sunday and book a history-making tie with Arsenal in the Women’s FA Cup fourth round.

As extra-time loomed, centre-back James nodded in Naomi Cole’s corner to spark celebrations – but victory was only confirmed after goalline clearances from Ariana Fleischman and Niamh Stephenson.

It means Wasps have won all 18 games this season in all competitions – and now face the Women’s Super League leaders.

After a low-quality first 20 minutes, on a bumpy surface, Coventry – the unbeaten leaders of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier – went in front as a cross from the right was swept home by Amber Hughes.

But Wasps hit back immediately, Faye Rabson touching Stephenson’s cross into the path of Fleischman, who lashed into the far corner. Naomi Cole then fizzed a shot inches wide.

GALLERY: For more of Jeff Bennett’s photos from the Coventry United game, CLICK HERE

HIGHLIGHTS: See the best of the action from the game here >>

Paul Walker’s side had to dig deep in the second half as Coventry pressed but Wasps were always a threat on the counter, with Megan Stow curling an effort against the upright.

Coventry went even closer as a hooked shot smacked against the underside of the bar, while only an outstanding tackle from Charlotte Young denied the hosts an 89th minute opportunity.

That proved to be a match-saver as James headed in – and the reward will come on February 3.

First goalscorer Fleischman said: “I had just a second to look up and tried to go for the corner, with placement.

“I’m just proud of the girls today, we picked each other up when we went 1-0 down and we got that goal.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, Young, James, Palmer; Drury (Davies 84), Cole; Fleischman, Stow, Rabson; Heather. Subs not used: Graves, Measures, Russell, C. Carter.

REPORT: Crawley Wasps 9 Denham United 0

Kemina Webber scored twice in the 9-0 win over Denham United (Picture: Dave Burt – www.daveburtphotography.co.uk).

Crawley Wasps warmed up for next weekend’s Women’s FA Cup second-round clash with Chichester by beating a young Denham United 9-0 in the FA Women’s National League on Sunday.

Six different players found the net as Wasps made it 15 wins from 15 in all competitions this season and stretched their unbeaten league run to 25 matches, dating back to March 2017.

It also guaranteed they will be top of the National League Division One South table until at least mid-January, in their first level at this season.

Wasps raced into a 4-0 lead after half an hour. Kemina Webber’s flicked header from Naomi Cole’s corner opened the scoring, while Sian Heather bunded in the second from Emma Plewa’s cross.

Former Wales international Plewa got the next two, first reacting quickest when Webber’s shot came back off the bar, and then slotting in after Heather had poked past the advancing goalkeeper.

Denham competed well for periods after the break but Wasps racked up three goals in as many minutes midway through the half.

Left-back Rachel Palmer fizzed in a shot from 30 yards, Heather crossed for Webber to make it 6-0 and midfielder Megan Stow’s low drive found the bottom corner.

Stow then set up Heather and Jenny Drury hooked in the ninth after Ariana Fleischman’s searching cross.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James (Russell 75), Young, Palmer; Drury. Cole; Heather, Stow, Plewa (Fleischman 47); Webber (Davies 72). Sub not used: Graves.

REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 6 QPR Girls Dev’ment 0

Emma Plewa scored a hat-trick against QPR Girls Development in the Women’s FA Cup (Picture: Ben Davidson – www.bendavidsonphotography.co.uk).

Former Wales international Emma Plewa hit a hat-trick as Crawley Wasps reached the second round of the Women’s FA Cup with a 6-0 win over QPR Girls Development on Sunday.

Kemina Webber, Megan Stow and Ariana Fleischman were also on target against the Rs’ youngsters at Tinsley Lane.

It is only the second time in the club’s history that Wasps have reached this stage of the FA Cup, and they have now won all 14 of their games this season.

Against QPR’s teenagers, who play in the division below, Wasps recalled Abbie Measures, Charlie Carter, Fleischman and Webber, and gave 17-year-old Lauren Graves only her second start in goal.

Measures created the first big chance with a cross that Plewa headed wide from eight yards out, while Rangers sent a volley wide from a corner at the other end.

A scrappy Webber goal put Wasps in front on 13 minutes. The centre forward burst into the box and the ball cannoned in off her as a defender attempted to challenge.

Stow shot into the side-netting from Sian Heather’s cutback, before Plewa’s cool finish when through on goal made it 2-0 on 26 minutes.

GALLERY: For more photos from the QPR Girls game, CLICK HERE

Graves comfortably fielded a long-range effort as Rangers threatened only occasionally, and Wasps scored four times in 20 second-half minutes.

Shortly after the break, Plewa latched on to a Stow through ball and rounded R’s keeper Lucie White before slotting in.

White also made saves from Heather’s angle drive and Fleischman’s half volley, but she could o little about Stow’s terrific effort from 25 yards which found the top corner.

Plewa completed her hat-trick in fine style, picking up the ball on the halfway line, burning past a defender and stabbing the ball into low into the far corner.

Fleischman completed the scoring when she snapped up a rebound following Heather’s saved shot.

Wasps: Graves; Measures (Drury), C. Carter, James, Palmer (Niamh Stephenson); Cole, Fleischman; Heather, Stow, Plewa; Webber. Sub not used: Gibbs.